Soulful Classical Guitarist Reveals Passion for VFF
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The Vicente Ferrer Foundation USA (VFF USA) is thrilled to announce the save-the date for our annual gala, “Recipe for Empowerment” as October 6th, 2017.
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David Russell is one of the most talented and prolific classical guitarists performing in the world today. The Glasgow-born, Spanish-based musician won the Grammy Award in 2005 for best instrumental soloist in classical music for his album, “Aire Latino.” A graduate of the Royal Academy of Music in London, Russell has also won all of the major Spanish guitar awards and many other accolades too numerous to mention. He is known for his warm, lyrical tone and passionate performances that are never over-the-top.
Because he has “always admired the wonderful work of the Vicente Ferrer Foundation,” Russell and his wife have financed four VFF schools. We recently had an opportunity to connect with the guitarist to discuss his tremendous support for VFF, and his travels to see the children in the schools.
“Their tenderness and love moved us deeply,” he said about one visit.
What did you know of the Vicente Ferrer Foundation before financing the schools in India?
The Vicente Ferrer Foundation is very well known in Spain where I live. So, of course my wife, María, and I had heard a lot about the work they had done in India.
How did you decide on helping these schools?
We had decided we wanted to contribute to the education in India. (Our small NGO was originally involved with water projects in Africa.) After researching a little, we found that the work that Vicente Ferrer did over so many years is an extraordinary achievement, so we contacted VFF.
What was the extent of your contribution?
We felt we wanted to help in the education of children in areas where there are no schools or very difficult access to the schools for the children in rural areas. We financed two schools at first and some years later, two more schools. The schools were built and we went to Anantapur for the opening. We returned for the opening of the third and fourth school as we felt we couldn't miss such a unique experience.
What are your favorite memories from visiting the school and the children? Had you gone to this part of India before?
It was our first visit to Andhra Pradesh in southern India. We drove from Bangalore, which was quite an adventure. It was very warm but quite dry so the heat didn't feel too uncomfortable. We stayed for about a week at VFF’s campus in Anantapur between the inaugurations of the schools. There we got to know some of the people that do so much of the work, both foreign volunteers and local people that had grown up connected to the foundation. In that whole area, everybody has heard of Vicente Ferrer and RDT (Rural Development Trust).
There was a certain sadness at that time as Vicente had died only a month or so before we arrived. Those days were unforgettable. Our visits to the small villages where the schools are located was quite extraordinary. The whole village turned out for our arrival and were a part of the opening. The children sang and danced for us and made those visits so wonderful that we knew we would return.
What did you learn about VFF's work?
We visited the hospitals that they have built (and shared the happiness of parents who had a newborn baby). We saw that the foundation gives special importance to the women. The maternity hospital was memorable. We also met many of the translators that translate the correspondence between the sponsored children and their sponsors, and some of the Spanish engineers working there on different projects. Every day there was a flood of emotions.
Did you perform at all during your visit?
I was there without my guitar. The visit was part of our life away from music. We continue to visit India every year and enjoy the fascinating culture, especially in the rural parts of the country.
What would you say is unique about India and its people?
Since then, I have performed in India but only in the city where the audience is not so different from our audiences in Europe or other parts of Asia. We have become involved with other educational projects in different parts of the country but our initial contact with the Indian people was with the Vicente Ferrer Foundation. There we experienced the gentleness and kindness of the Indian people.